Hundreds of women of Koirengei Awang village area on Tuesday staged a protest at Awang Leikinthabi on Tuesday decrying authorities’ disregard for their demand to deploy only state forces.
The protesting villagers opposed the sending of BSF personnel to provide security to farmers during agricultural activities in paddy fields along Tingri, Khongnangpokpi, Chirik Loitong and Mapao area.
As such, the villagers highlighted that the decision to disallow any central forces for the protection of farmers and paddy fields was derived during a recent public meeting. They also cautioned that a series of agitations would follow if the post was not removed immediately.
The protest was organised by Koirengei Awang Village Development Committee and Koirengei Awang Leikai Meira Paibi Lup.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the protest, Koirengei Awang Village Development Committee president Hijam Priyokumar asserted that the paddy fields near the Awang Leikinthabi area were under constant attack from suspected Kuki militants.
“Numerous farmers and villagers who went to the fields for farming activities have been seriously injured from gun attacks by the Kuki militants and hence, the committee, along with the villagers, had made demands to authorities concerned to deploy state forces in the area so that normal farming activities can continue,” he said.
He highlighted that the villagers were apprehensive to set foot in their paddy fields even if the BSF were stationed because of their non-retaliatory operational conduct.
“The fear of BSF just spectating while the Kuki militants attack is the biggest apprehension of the people; there is no use for such forces in the area, instead, exchange them with few state forces,” he said.
He noted that the state government had notified the area as one of the sensitive foothill agricultural areas on July 6 and maintained that the villagers convened a public meeting which unanimously resolved to demand only state forces and no other forces for security in the area.
He further added that the BSF was deployed on July 8 and 9 at Khongnangpokpi without prior information to the villagers.
“Previously, several CRPF personnel were deployed near Khongnangpokpi but they just stood and watched while the suspected Kuki militants torched Meetei houses and farms on July 5; this has only added to the people’s apprehension that the BSF would follow the same suit," he said.
He also claimed that the paddy fields are located close to the designated camp of SoO Kuki militants at Chingsat.
As such he reiterated the people’s demand to remove the BSF post at Khongnangpokpi. He stated that no peace would be restored until law and order were re-established in the hills and the valley.